New Grill – Smoke Hollow 4-in-1 Combo Grill

Over the past couple of days have been enjoying our “new” grill.  I actually purchased it from Sam’s Club last year on a special, and it has taken me this long to finally get around to assembling it.  They are currently going for $349.00 at Sam’s Club which is the best buy by a long shot that I have found on them.  Several places on-line will sell you one for over $600 plus shipping if you want to pay it – I didn’t.  Since I took delivery on it at our closest Sam’s Club, there was no shipping/handling fee tacked on, shoot – you pay enough in taxation.

Right up front, I want to say that these are manufactured in CHINA, and while I had no *real* difficulty assembling it – I had to be very careful following the instructions and even with that extra care succeeded in putting a couple of items on backwards, then having to partially disassemble it to turn them around the correct way.  Also, while this is a wonderful design, the sheet metal used is pretty thin.  I will have to take good care of it in order to preserve it for an extended time.  (Think things like “seasoning” the entire interior of the fireboxes and grates – extra high-temperature flat-black paint, etc.)..  If this were manufactured out of stainless steel, it would be wonderful – but cost prohibitive, (at least for MY retired pay). ;)

Here is what it looks like fully assembled:

 

SmokeHollow4-in-1 with hoods closed

SmokeHollow4-in-1 with hoods closed

SmokeHollow4-in-1 with hoods open

SmokeHollow4-in-1 with hoods open

With 4 different cooking chambers, that works out to be 82″ Long x 53.5″ Tall x 23″ Deep.  Thus I nicknamed this one “Big Bubba”. ;)

Like the old “Hybrid Grill”, this one has an Infrared “Sear Burner” (Left) – a propane grill and a charcoal grill, but this one also has a smoker box/auxiliary grill out on the right side.  In essence, I am replacing our old grill and separate smoker with a single unit.

Here is what the “Marketeers” advertisement has to say:

Description

The grill that has it all! An infrared burner to sear steaks and seal in moisture; the convenience of a three-burner gas grill that can cook 20 hamburgers at one time; a charcoal grill with an adjustable charcoal pan for temperature control and authentic barbecue taste; and an offset fire box for smoking and indirect cooking. This grill is perfect for large gatherings or meals for the family.

Specifications

  • Infrared sear burner with porcelain-coated cast iron cooking grid quickly seals in moisture for perfect steaks
  • 3 burner gas grill with porcelain-coated cast iron cooking grids
  • Porcelain-coated warming rack for delicate foods and vegetables
  • Electronic ignition for easy lighting of all burners
  • Charcoal grill with porcelain-coated cast iron cooking grids
  • Adjustable charcoal tray and damper for temperature control
  • Off-set fire box for smoking and indirect cooking
  • Removable grease and ash pan for easy clean-up
  • 2 lower shelves and 2 condiment racks for storage

After completing the assembly, I spent the next day “seasoning” the inside of the grill – first with vegetable oil, then later re-seasoned the cast iron grill grates with Crisco, the same way I season black-iron pans and dutch ovens.  I also have quite a stock of High-Temp flat black spray paint from Home Depot to be used as needed.  (I did already spray the expanded metal shelves already as they were not completely covered by the manufacturer. <spit>).  Intend to go back and coat each bolt exposed to the outside whose coating was scraped by my Phillips screwdriver – also the rear vents on the propane grill which are known to be problem areas for rust.  All in all, if I properly maintain it, we should get some very good years of service out of this grill.

For our first time using the propane grill, covered it with frozen grill patties to look for the (invariable) hot and cold spots.  As it has been with every gas grill I’ve experienced, the right side of this one is slightly cooler than the left.  Now that I know, I can allow for it – also will use that side as the “cool side” for indirect cooking.  Also cooked off a package of frozen breaded chicken patties.  Everything turned out good, now looking forward to some steaks, portabello mushrooms, etc.

Yesterday was my first crack at the charcoal grill. (See previous post).  Have fallen in love with the “Adjustable charcoal tray” – I call it my “charcoal elevator”. Will have far better temperature control than I had on the old Weber style kettles, just as the “Hybrid Grill” had, but this design is even easier to operate, better leverage, and has one more elevation selection (now 6) than the old one did.

Finally, have some modifications in mind that I’ve already found on-line, (primarily YouTube videos posted by other owners of this grill).  Most of them will be on the charcoal/smoker side to improve performance with charcoal briquettes. Need to make a run to Home Depot for some parts, but that will be another post later on.  For now – I am a very Happy Camper with this new grill and look forward to a lot of great meals from it, all cooked outdoors. :)

Kielbasa Sausage, Bell Pepper & Onion on the Grill

This isn’t a recipe, more of a pictorial review..

One of Heidi’s favorite outdoor dishes is Kielbasa Sausage cooked with bell pepper and onion.  Our Son-in-law Jeff has perfected this dish over the last few years, but thought I would try my own twist, and revisit my old friends… The deep and shallow cast iron frying pans that make up the Lodge Logic Combo cooker. (I have been craving “Tater Tots” all week, so made that part of the equation for our dinner.

I wanted to use the charcoal side of our new "Smokey Hollow 4-in-1" grill, so fired up some briquettes in a Weber chimney for rapid preparation.

I wanted to use the charcoal side of our new “Smokey Hollow 4-in-1″ grill, so fired up some briquettes in a Weber chimney for rapid preparation.

Got a good start, now its just wait for the top briquettes to turn white.

Got a good start, now its just wait for the top briquettes to turn white.

 

That done, laid them out on one side of the "elevator" to do a little indirect cooking on some Tater Tots.

That done, laid them out on one side of the “elevator” to do a little indirect cooking on some Tater Tots.

Grates in place, kind of singing the Keilbasa sausage for flavor on both sides before cutting. Onions and bell pepper in deep fying pan.

Grates in place, kind of singing the Kielbasa sausage for flavor on both sides before cutting. Onions and bell pepper in deep frying pan.

Just about time to take that sausage to the cutting board.

Just about time to take that sausage to the cutting board.

We like 3/4" slices on a bias. Moved pre-heated pan to hot side.  After a couple minutes, added half a can of beer (MGD) to steam the veggies.

We like 3/4″ slices on a bias. Moved pre-heated pan to hot side. After a couple minutes, added half a can of beer (MGD) to steam the veggies.

Added my Tater Tots - been craving them all week!

Beer is steaming. Added my Tater Tots – been craving them all week!

Closed hood to trap heat for roasting the Tater Tots.

Closed hood to trap heat for roasting the Tater Tots.

Oh yeah, now we are cooking!

Oh yeah, now we are cooking!

Looks just about right.  Added a little "Sweet Baby Ray" BBQ Sauce, then stirred after this shot. Rotated both pans 180 degrees for more even cooking.

Looks just about right. Added a little “Sweet Baby Ray” BBQ Sauce, then stirred after this shot. Rotated both pans 180 degrees for more even cooking.

The Kielbasa dish is done, Tater tots need about another 5 minutes or so.

The Kielbasa dish is done, Tater tots need about another 5 minutes or so.

Plated up just the way we like it - and not a lot of cleanup. ;-)

Plated up just the way we like it – and not a lot of cleanup. ;-)

Guess I should mention, we like Hillshire Farms Smoked Polska Kielbasa sausage…  This is a simple meal, easy to cook outdoors, and one of our personal favorites.  Enjoy!

Solar Cooking Navy beans and ham

One of the best things about enjoying a big ham dinner is making effective use of the leftovers!  Heidi baked a fairly large, spiral-cut, ham in the oven yesterday, (Easter Sunday) – and after dinner I immediately started scheming on ways to use the rest of it for some outdoor cooking.  Decided it is way past time to break out the old All Season Solar Cooker (ASSC) as today and Thursday were supposed to be *excellent* “Solar Days” out here in East San Diego County.  This is our original ASSC, put together under Jim La Joie’s watchful eye, almost 3 years ago.  I still haven’t had to do any maintenance on it, other than wipe dust off of the reflective surface.

Picked over about 1/2 lb. of dry Navy beans and set them up to soak in water overnight.  Got up early, (for me), at 6AM figuring I would have coffee and start setting up.  One of the beauties of the ASSC design is that it can be configured/adjusted to take advantage of early morning and late evening sunshine – unlike the Solar Box Ovens which are limited to about 4 – 5 hours of cooking time.  With the ASSC you can cook any time there is sunshine.

Imagine my surprise when I walked out to our (hopefully earthquake-proof) steel shed and found the morning had brought in low clouds and fog thanks to a very thick marine layer.  No problem, knew it would just delay my “schedule” by a couple hours while old Sol burned it off.  Sure enough, by 9:30 there was more than enough sunshine to get started.  I set up a portable work-bench to use as a table out front.  We have an 11 mo. old Shepherd pup that, most assuredly, would be curious and might get hurt.  (I cannot stress enough – solar cooking can be dangerous around pets and small children.  We are talking real cooking temperatures with the ASSC and you MUST have due caution!

1 cup Navy beans soaked overnight in a little black anodized camping pot.

1 cup Navy beans soaked overnight in a little black anodized camping pot.

Set up the ASSC on the bench, then, (after draining), put the soaked beans in a 2 Qt. black anodized “Bush Pot” recently purchased from my friend, Alan Halcon, at his on-line “Outdoor Self-Reliance” store, along with a 4 Qt. version.  Covered the beans with about 1″ of cold water.   We already own one of those pots, but Alan’s price was so much more reasonable than what I had previously paid, I just couldn’t resist. :D

"Bush Pot" with lid in place.

“Bush Pot” with lid in place.

ASSC configured for "winter mode" initially.

ASSC configured for “winter mode” initially.

All Season Solar cooker set in “winter” mode to warm up – trivet was uncomfortable to handle after just a few minutes.  Decided the sun had already climbed high enough to flip it over for “Summer Mode”.

ASSC configured for "Summer Mode".

ASSC configured for “Summer Mode”.

Flipped the ASSC over into “Summer” mode and adjusted roughly to catch sun. (That trivet is hot already!)

Jim La Joie's ingenious little "Sunsight".

Jim La Joie’s ingenious little “Sunsight”.

Jim La Joie’s ingenious little “Sunsight”… You simply use the shadow of the nail head to show when you are precisely aimed at the sun.  So intuitive to use its hard to believe something so simple can be so effective.

So easy to adjust - a couple of clothes pins hold it in position.

So easy to adjust – a couple of clothes pins hold it in position.

Wow, I need to get a move on, 10 minutes and its getting hot out here!

Wind-proof chamber dramatically improves temperature and reduces cooking time.

Wind-proof chamber dramatically improves temperature and reduces cooking time.

Using our same old oven-proof glass pie plate and inverted bowl to create the cooking chamber.  Hard to believe what a dramatic difference they make…  On hot summer days, with little to no wind, you can get away without this set up – also you can use large oven bags when carrying the heavy glass is inconvenient – but for home use, or a “civilized base camp”, you just cannot beat this combination.  The increased weight of this cooking chamber additionally helps the ASSC remain stable when its a little windy.

After taking that last picture, it dawned on my that I had assembled the ASSC “wrong” in that those large, lower “flaps” should be outside rather than inside.  It is not affecting the heat in the cooking chamber, but does make adjustments a little “stiffer”.  Not a real problem so I’ll just leave it like it is for now, go inside and watch Jim’s assembly video again. (I haven’t peeked at it for a couple of years). <blush>

That pot was in place at 9:40 AM.  Time for another cup of coffee, then come back out about every 45 minutes or so to re-aim the ASSC at the sun.  After you have used these for a while, you tend to “pull a little lead” on the sun’s current position to extend the time between adjustments.  For beans, I like to keep after it to gain maximum temperature and shorten the cooking time.

12:30 PM, added diced ham, onion, and our favorite spices, (a little Chili powder, Cumin and Garlic powder).  Had to move workbench to allow for our large Palm tree out front.  My estimate of about 4 hours is a gross approximate.  The beans are done when they are soft…

Properly reconfigured the lower "flaps" on the ASSC.

Properly reconfigured the lower “flaps” on the ASSC.

Not quite 1PM, when I went outside to adjust to the “Sunsight”, decided to properly assemble those lower flaps – and tossed in a thermometer. Sun is at its zenith for this time of year, or just slightly past.  Our local PWS is reporting 83.5 ° outside.  Have to admit, I got into “blogging/facebook/etc.” and let the palm tree shadow interfere for about a half hour. <blush>  Moved the bench to its final destination and adjusted for the sun angle.  At 2:40 PM Heidi and I went out for a taste test, agreed its going to take a while longer to get to the consistency we enjoy – also needed salt and a little pepper.

Of course, then I got busy replacing a headlamp bulb on Heidi’s Hyundai, ran into problems (driver’s side is a pain), and forgot all about the beans until I got the car fixed and everything put back together.  Heidi just tested and they are certainly done now – another beauty of cooking with a solar reflector oven, its near impossible burn anything.  Bottom line, they are good and we will have them as a side dish with supper.  Fun day, except for the part playing auto-mechanic…

p.s. Supper was great!  Fried ham with potato salad, Navy beans, sweet corn, olives and cucumber/onion salad on the side.  My beans were not as good as Heidi normally cooks, but I’m working on it! Next time will thicken the soup with a little flour water, and not be so chicken on adding the spices.  Hit my bowl with about 6 splashes of Tabanero Hot Sauce and I was fine….

 

Cheesy Chili Hash Brown Bake

Upon reading Cheesy Chili Hash Brown Bake at MyRecipes.com – it sounded so easy I just *have* to give this one a shot!

“This 5-ingredient casserole features convenient frozen hash brown potatoes, a can of Sloppy Joe sauce and can of chili”.

That quote alone was enough to set my mouth watering. ;)

This image will be replaced with my own..

Around the old Pondee, we go through a lot of chili (surprise?), over the past few years we’ve enjoyed Sloppy Joes quite a few times, and all of us absolutely *love* shredded hash brown potatoes with cheese. I don’t believe this recipe can miss! (Of course I’ll have to mess with the original recipe a bit – shoot, its what I do! ;)).

ARG! Please see Note at the bottom of this recipe..

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 (15.5-oz.) can original sloppy joe sauce (We like “Manwich Bold”).
  • 1 (15-oz.) can chili with beans (we like the HOT Hormel Chili with beans).
  • 1/2 (30-oz.) package frozen country-style shredded hash browns (about 4 cups) (I used dehydrated and they were fine after re-hydrating for 12 minutes in hot water).
  • 2 cups (8 oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese (I used a shredded Mexican blend).
  • Optional – favorite spices to kick things up to your own taste. 8) Mine are Chili powder, garlic powder, cumin and Gooba Dust

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°. Brown ground beef in a large, deep, skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, 7 to 10 minutes or until meat crumbles and is no longer pink. (I just HAD to add some diced onion). Stir in sloppy joe sauce and chili.  I used the deep side of the 10″ Lodge Logic Combo-cooker – perfect for this size recipe.
  2. Spoon chili mixture into a lightly greased (metal) 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Top with frozen hash browns.  ** I skipped transferring the mixture since I was using oven-ready cast iron – simply added my own spice preferences, cooked on the stove top a couple more minutes, then topped with the shredded hash browns.
  3. Bake, covered with heavy duty foil, at 425° for 30 minutes; uncover and bake 10 more minutes or until browned and crisp. Sprinkle with cheese, and bake 5 more minutes or until cheese is melted.

Note: If you use a large glass casserole, you will have to reduce the heat to 350° and extend the covered baking time to about 45 minutes instead of 30…

Having tweaked the original recipe into something we might enjoy, as listed above, will be giving this one a try later this week.

OK – here we go! :D

The magic ingredients - note: I used two cartons of shredded hash browns.

The magic ingredients – note: I used two cartons of shredded hash browns.

Browning lean ground beef with diced onion and spices

Browning lean ground beef with diced onion and spices

Added canned chili and sloppy joe mix with a little more chili powder

Added canned chili and sloppy joe mix with a little more chili powder

Covered with a little over 15 oz shredded hash browns

Covered with a little over 15 oz shredded hash browns

A little dusting with paprika never hurt anything.

A little dusting with paprika never hurt anything.

Covered with aluminum foil for 30 min bake at 425

Covered with aluminum foil for 30 min bake at 425

After baking 10 more min uncovered, added cheese and put back in the oven for a few minutes

After baking 10 more min uncovered, added cheese and put back in the oven for a few minutes

This one got Heidi’s immediate approval – she said this would be good at any camp site. ;)

I have one “self-critique” – while it was good, and we love them, I should have stuck with the original 15 oz or so of shredded hash browns – since I kinda went way over that, the ‘taters were a little out of proportion to the rest.  Next time, will try to keep my tweakish nature under control.  I can save the rest of the hash browns for breakfast! :D

~~~

 NOTE:  Well, maybe I WON’T be adding it to my repertoire of outdoor recipes – Heidi and I both had a bad (gastric) reaction the following morning/day after eating this one. Can’t nail it down to this food, and there have been some strange stomach bugs floating through East County this year – but at this point uncertain if we want to try it again.  -=dave=-

Fideo Laredo (Pondee style)

Recipe: Fideo Laredo

Found this one on Food.com, (link goes to correct page), and it sounded so good – just had to try it.  First, in our kitchen, then later on will make some more tweaks and give it a shot outdoors. ;)

 This is the picture on-line that attracted me.

“Fideo” is Spanish for “noodles”..  In Mexico, the tradition is to saute some onion in oil, (lard, fat), possibly with some pepper, then place the dry fideo in the pan and fry it until most is golden brown before introducing any liquids.  Since this particular recipe adds beef – the fideo, (I will use vermicelli), is browned separately..

The first thing I “tweaked” was the pasta – the original recipe calls for 4 ounces angel hair pasta and 8 ounces orzo pasta. ;) Also, I don’t care for garlic salt.. Never use the stuff. Finally, I replaced the 30 oz (total) diced tomatoes with 3 10 oz cans of Rotel which we always prefer.

Servings: 8-10

Labels: Main Dishes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon Gooba Dust from Phil’s BBQ **optional but I love the stuff
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  •  16 oz vermicelli (fideo) – we do love pasta!
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons diced jalapeno
  • 1 (4 ounce) can diced green chilies
  • 3 (10 ounce) cans Rotel diced tomatoes with Chiles
  • 2 cubes beef bouillon **I consider this or powdered bullion to be optional
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese (grated for garnish)

Directions:

  1. Brown ground beef with onion and bullion cubes, when almost done, drain, than add chili powder, red pepper, cumin, garlic powder, onion, garlic and jalapeno. Stir and finish browning.
  2. Set beef mixture aside.
  3. In a large deep skillet with a lid, heat oil and add fideo, (broken into small pieces). Breaking it up is important for browning the pasta without burning. 3 ” pieces seem to be about right to me. I tried longer on this first pass and burned a few strands – a lesson I shall NOT forget.
  4. Stir constantly for 2-3 minutes, allowing most of the fideo to brown lightly.
  5. Turn heat down to medium and add 2 cups of HOT water, (it WILL sizzle, be careful).
  6. Add beef mixture to skillet with pasta.
  7. Add canned tomatoes juice included.
  8. Add canned green chilies.
  9. Place lid on skillet and let simmer for 20-30 minutes, until pasta is cooked.
  10. Top each bowl served with grated cheddar cheese. (We use a grated Mexican blend of cheese).

Here is what ours looked like on the stove-top:

Fideo Laredo - almost done

Fideo Laredo – almost done

And plated up,  (bowled ;)):

 

Small serving topped with Mexican blend shredded cheese

Small serving topped with Mexican blend shredded cheese

Note:  I *love* Pace brand Picante Sauce and we keep it in the house constantly.  Some folks don’t care for it, otherS like to add their own hot sauce like Tapatillo.  We keep both handy. ;)

This is a pretty good main dish – but it absolutely CRIES for side-dishes, starting with a good salad.  You might want to  put out some home made garlic toast with it.

Urrp.. Not bad – lots of leftovers since only Heidi and I are here this evening, hoping its like Chili or good Spaghetti and tastes even better on the 2nd day! 8) Am already scheming about how I will handle moving this recipe outdoors, using my Lodge Logic Combo-cooker and a new grill.

 

Lazy Man’s Beef Jerky…

It has been a *very* busy Summer around the old Pondee, and am ashamed to admit how much I have taken advantage of Jeff’s, (our son-in-law), willingness to help with all of our “projects”.  From getting our old 30′ 5th Wheel Trailer both weather and road-worthy again, erecting a new steel out-building for my future shed/shack/shop, to taking on a plumbing problem that led to a mini-remodel of our half-bathroom, and many, many more in between. THANK YOU Son, until you are better paid! :)

Back on topic, my passion for cooking outdoors is still there – and it is one which Jeff shares completely, but every now and then you hit on something worth sharing that is done indoors too.  I think all of us have gone the more traditional routes of thin-slicing and marinating beef or venison – then using the oven, grill, smoker, solar or electric dehydrator, to make jerky. (I confess I’ve never tried the Native American means, but have been tempted).  Until purchasing an upgrade to our old, round, dehydrator a few years ago, I had never thought of using lean ground beef – then I hit on a kind of Nesco “kit” and the grand-kids almost did back-flips over the result, (so did Jeff. :D)… I think the best thing about doing it the “Lazy Man’s” way, is that the great results are repeatable, time after time. Here is what Heidi and I use today to get those huge smiling faces:

Hardware:

NESCO (American Harvest) FD-80 Snackmaster Square Dehydrator & Jerky Maker (see Notes)

Dehydrator

Dehydrator

Nesco BJX-8 Jumbo Jerky Works Kit
(
Primarily for the Jerky gun)

Jerky gun

Jerky gun

Spices:

Nesco BJ-18 Jerky Spice Works, Original Flavor, 18-Pack
Nesco American Harvest BJH-6 Jerky Spice Works, Hot and Spicy Flavor, 6.9oz box

Ground Beef:

We have been using the leanest we could find in our local markets. At present, our local Albertsons has a 96.4% lean product sold by the pound under “Ground Sirloin”.  We use 3 lbs per batch, which makes almost 4 trays.

Procedure:

We like to use a 2:1 ratio – two packets of “Original” to one packet of “Hot-N-Spicy”, along with 3 packets of the “cure” that comes with each. I pre-mix them with a fork in a measuring cup, adding some garlic powder, chili powder, cumin and cayenne pepper, but in sparing amounts. (If it were just me and the eldest granddaughter, I wouldn’t be so sparing. 8))…

After full thawing, put all 3 lbs of beef in a large mixing bowl, roll up your sleeves and get mixing, (it helps to have an assistant here and later on to slowly add in the spice mix while you are at it).

Load the Jerky Gun by hand, (again really need that assistant! Thanks Honey!) Cover with the “two-slot” cover and tighten down the screw-on holder. (This permits you to squeeze out two strips of jerky at a time).

One tray at a time, squeeze out the jerky strips, having your helper handy with a knife to kind of cut off each pair of strips at about 5″ length is a HUGE help!  You should get about 1 tray full for each load of the gun.

Mixture laid out with Jerky gun

Mixture laid out with Jerky gun

Set the dehydrator for maximum temperature (160 on our particular unit).  Prepare for your house to start smelling like the beef jerky factory it just became.

Wow - can you smell that?

Wow – can you smell that?

The directions say “4 to 6 hours”, and I always go with 6.  At about 3 hours, or the half-way point, I unplug – pat each strip dry with paper towels, flip each strip over, then pat again.  Do this with each tray, then replace them, reversing their order. Plug back in and let dehydrate for the rest of the period.  When done, you will probably want to pat dry the pieces again prior to packaging in zip-lock baggies.

Half-way point, pat with paper towels, flip, pat again

Half-way point, pat with paper towels, flip, pat again

Finished product, may want to pat with paper towels again

Finished product, may want to pat with paper towels again

NOTES:

Beef Jerky is fun, and the above combination of ingredients is just what makes our family particularly happy.  Play with your own combination of spices, or go ahead and do sliced strips with marinade.  *Warning* if you decide to try using a product called “Liquid Smoke” I would most strongly recommend you do so very, very, sparingly or you could waste a whole batch of meat. ;)

The brand/size of our dehydrator is unimportant – but the temperature of around 160 degrees IS important if you want to try this.  You can get by with a lower temperature, but if you do – it REALLY needs to be high enough to kill bacteria – and your cooking time will be far, far longer than 4-6 hours if you want to stay well and healthy with this process.

If you can acquire a dehydrator with square trays, it really does enhance this process – we get about 24 5″ strips of jerky on each tray.

OBTW, the Excalibur model of food dehydrators really IS the “Caddy” of them all.  If you can afford one, you would probably love that one even more than we love our big Nesco.

Just one final thought – we like stuff that is hot and spicy – but before you try kicking things up a notch, (like my penchant for adding my favorite spices to cornbread, etc.), you might want to just try a batch using the “Original” spice mix first – then proceed from there.  Your pallet may not be as “spice tolerant” as ours. :)

Wow! Is it Summertime already?

What happened to Spring? Seems it just got started yesterday! :)

Nice and warm around the Pondee for the first day of Summer, 2012. Lots of good stuff going on – Heidi is now on vacation and today was the last day of school for two of our teen-age granddaughters, (the teenager in Florida has already started her vacation). Got to see my eldest Grandson for a short visit just last week. Boy is growing like a weed!

Life is good!

-=dave=-

Happy Easter!

Not doing much on the old blog here lately, but we have already accomplished a ton of projects around the old Pondee and have yet another, pretty major one, in progress. (All of the accomplishments are primarily due to the efforts of our Son-in-law, Jeff, and Heidi’s ever-able assistance).

Today is no exception, Jeff has completed smoking yet another ham for our Easter dinner and is currently carving it.  Glad you can’t smell it – I could get trampled in the rush to get a sample. ;)

Happy Easter Sunday everybody – I wish everyone could be as blessed as I personally am this Sunday!  -=dave=-

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

I had a plan for today, but as predicted by the weather-guessers earlier this week, Mother Nature has disagreed and we are expecting a couple of inches of rain, with possible thunder storms and hail, here in the inland valleys of San Diego County. :(

What I wanted to do was an outdoor version, (Pondee-style), of the traditional Corned Beef & Cabbage dinner.  It would have involved using our Big Kahuna Burner and very large stainless steel stock pot to boil a 5-6 lb corned beef brisket for about 45 minutes, (with the spice pack and some extra garlic), which would serve two purposes. First, to create that wonderful broth to cook all of the veggies in, and secondly to remove the salt brine, (“corning” process, used to preserve beef when there was little/no refrigeration), from the beef brisket.  Basically, I would have been “restoring” the beef brisket for non-traditional preparation – which would have involved cooking it low and slow on the grill using indirect heat for about 45 minutes, wrapping in tightly in heavy duty aluminum foil after coating with BBQ sauce, then returning it to the indirect side of the grill. (That last part does an amazing job of tenderizing what otherwise would still be a bit of a “chewy” brisket).  At that point I would have re-lit the Big Kahuna Burner, and added quartered cabbage, about 6 potatoes, carrots and onions to the pot and simmered that for about 30 minutes or so, until all of the veggies were done.  Prepared that way, the whole meal comes together and is ready for slicing/presentation at the same time. (If you try this method, you will still want to remember to slice the brisket cross-grain as always).

What I will be doing instead, is preparing a huge, cast-iron Wok full of sliced Hillshire farms hot-links, onions, and cabbage diced down to about one inch. (Think fried sausage & cabbage, but done stir-fry style).  At the same time, and still on the stove top, I’ll be using a 3″ deep frying pan to prepare sliced Kielbasa sausage, onion and bell pepper, which is the favorite of one of our granddaughters and Heidi. 8-)

One way or the other, life is still good around the old Pondee, but I’m looking forward to some cooperation out of Mother Nature after she gets this last winter storm out of her system. ;-)

Giving away Jeff’s “secrets”…

Our Son-In-Law, Jeff, can grill a London Broil as well as any I’ve ever tasted – but recently we have noticed his end result is even more tender and tasty!  Heidi recently commented “this is as tender and juicy as as a Ribeye!”

He has only made a single change – otherwise the rub/sauce, preparation and presentation all remain the same.

His “secret”?  He has taken to wrapping each London Broil tightly in heavy duty aluminum foil and cooking it in that for all but the last 15 minutes of cooking time, (to get the sear marks on the meat).  That is IT – and the result is simply wonderful. 8)

(Guess I should admit, I got a bit sick just before New Years, and kind of stayed that way through January of the New Year.  2012 did NOT have a good start, but all better now and ready for another spring/summer of enjoying Outdoor Cooking!)…